In the world of freelance writing, new skills tend to equal more jobs for freelance writers. Freelance writers who continually diversify their skills gain access to new avenues of work, new clients, new freelancing opportunities, and new sources of income. Several questions arise however when the freelance writers consider diversifying his or her skills and branching off into a new form of work.
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How does the freelance writer diversify his or her skills while maintaining a steady and secure income and taking care of the clients he or she already has? How does the freelance writer become quickly competitive in the newly acquired skills, so that he or she can hold her own in the job market against competitors and generate new sources of income? How does the freelance writer gain new skills when he or she is already working at maximum capacity with very little time for extracurricular activities, particularly in the area of education? What follows are some answers to these questions, as well as guidelines for what new skills the freelance writer needs to acquire to keep his or her business grow.
New skills may include computer skills, such as learning new software, coding, or computer languages. The upside to acquiring these skills is that they are in demand. Clients are always on the lookout for savvy freelance writers who can diversify into technical writing such as the creation of instruction manuals. Technical writing tends to be lucrative, and there are always technical writing jobs available, many of which are freelance or contract.
The downside of diversifying into new computer skills and languages is start-up costs. Often, new computer skills, languages, and software engender upgrading in the freelance writer’s existing workspace such as purchasing software, additional memory, or even hardware – all of this can become very expensive very quickly. Therefore, the freelance writer who considers diversifying into technical writing must do a cost-benefit analysis before venturing into this domain. Figure out the cost of buying new equipment, as well as any potential lost revenue from taking the time to learn the new skill, and balance this outlay of cost against the potential new income.
If the freelance writer comes out in the win column at the end of the analysis – earning considerably more money once the new skill is in place – then the investment of time and infrastructure will be well worth it. However, if at the end of the cost-benefit analysis the freelance writer finds that he or she will only gain a few hundred dollars extra by adding this new skill, perhaps it is best to look for a new one to add to the roster.
Other new skills that the freelance writer can diversify and acquire include different styles of writing. For instance, if the bread and butter of the freelance writer’s business at present is online articles or business blogs, he or she may consider diversifying into writing communication materials such as employee communications for intranets, speeches for CEOs and senior executives, and press releases.
Companies always require these types of communication products, so there is no end to this type of work. Another upside is that these types of products tend to generate a lucrative income. The downside is that most of these communication products are handled by internal employees and contracted out to high-priced consultants. One way that freelance writers can diversify into this market is to use his or her existing clients and contacts to get some experience in writing these types of communications products.
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In some cases, you may need to offer to do this work at a reduced rate, as a means of gaining experience and exposure. Again, the freelance writer will benefit from figuring out how much money he or she has the potential to earn by diversifying into this market. If the amount is considerable, then the initial reduced rate will pay for itself through the addition of future jobs and additional income sources.
Freelance writers may also diversify their skills using formal education. The best way for a freelance writer to upgrade skills using this method is via distance learning. Colleges or universities that support distance learning allow the freelance writer to learn these new skills online, while he or she continues to do the work for existing clients. Distance learning modules are set up so that they can be done anywhere and on the freelance writer’s schedule.
This means that the freelance writer can work his or her education without having to lose time and income going to a college or university; all he or she will need is an Internet connection, as distance learning modules provide all study materials and tests online. Freelance writers who chose this option to diversify skills formally need to keep a few guidelines in mind. Choose an education institution that has a name or a recognizable brand associated with it.
The downside of this means that the freelance writer will pay more for the distance learning course. The upside of this route is that the freelance writer can use the name of the institution to market the newly acquired skill far more effectively than he or she could through an unknown institution. If the freelance writer chooses this route to diversify, make sure it is to acquire a skill that is very much in demand; ideally, this needs to be a skill that few other freelance writers currently possess, so that the freelance writer can corner the market as soon as he or she has completed the distance learning course.
Finally, freelance writers who seek to diversify their skills and gain access to new avenues of income can use their existing network of clients to help them choose what skills to upgrade or what new skills to acquire to net the maximum financial benefit. Find out from your existing client base what gaps or holes you might be able to fill. Market yourself effectively through your existing network before you begin to advertise your newly acquired skills to the broader market.
Tell your current clients that you have the skill or that you are currently learning the new skill. The freelance writer will typically find outlets and work for the newly acquired skills through these clients and their referrals, and often enough jobs that provide the opportunity to implement the new skills will begin to come in via this network, even before the freelance writer has completed his or her education. This saves the freelance writer time and money attempting to market the new service to a cold audience.